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Tag: Business Owner Insights

3 Ways To Keep Your Staff Motivated and Your Clients Happy

3 Ways To Keep Your Staff Motivated and Your Clients Happy

3 Ways To Keep Your Staff Motivated and Your Clients Happy

BUSINESS OWNER INSIGHTS

Catalina Zbar | September 1, 2021

If you’re a studio owner, you know that in order for your business to run smoothly, you need motivated instructors and happy clients. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other. If you’re striving for high retention rates and instructors that embody your core values, you’ll need both of these to thrive. 

Let’s explore 3 key ways to keep your staff motivated and your clients happy.

1.) The Intake Process

First impressions are super important, and having a seamless intake process for your staff members to follow will help ensure a great experience for new clients. 

The intake process can begin before your client even steps foot into the studio. When they sign up to take their first class and create a profile, prompt them with a welcome email that includes your studio intake form. The intake form should include questions about their goals, what they’re looking to get out of their practice, how often they like to take class, as well as any injuries or concerns they might have. For first time students who visit the studio prior to signing up online, paper intake forms are a great way to capture this information, and are a natural connection point for desk staff.

A structured intake process has three main benefits: 

    1. New clients feel welcomed.
    2. You’re able to gather valuable data on those clients. 
    3. You’re able to share that information with your instructors to both fuel their classes and allow them to connect with clients on a more personal level. 

Their approach to welcoming in new individuals is key to whether or not they are retained. Make sure the intake process follows your clients through to after class, and encourage your instructors to reach out to them afterwards. Your instructors can use a tool such as Fitgrid’s Pro App to send personalized messages to clients after class to get feedback on their experience. This will allow instructors to feel useful and clients to feel taken care of. 

2.) Create a Welcoming Environment

An inviting physical space creates a welcoming environment, a place where everyone wants to be. Using friendly and inviting signage, carving out space for a cozy seating area, and creating a mood with candles and music will help everyone who enters your space feel calm and positive. When creating the ambiance of your studio, focus on hitting as many of the five senses as possible.

In addition to the physical space your staff can cultivate a welcoming environment through their personal interactions with clients. Encourage them to connect with clients before, during and after class. Your clients will look forward to being in an accepting environment where they feel proud to be a part of your studio community.

3.) Check in with your Core Values

Core values are a key component of any successful movement business. If you haven’t created core values for your studio space yet, think back to what you envisioned when you first opened your space. What type of energy did you want it to hold? What were you hoping your clients would feel in the space? How did you want your staff to interact with clients and one another? Use these questions as a starting point to create values that feel true to your studio.

Once you’ve created those values, make sure staff and clients know what they are. Include them as focal points in your newsletter and social posts, blog about them, and consider putting them up on the walls. Clearly communicated values allow studio-goers a way to connect to the space and each other, creating a sense of community and commonality.

Motivated staff and returning clients are key to the success of any studio. By following the guidance outlined above, you’ve started down the path to a thriving studio. Your community – clients and staff alike – will thank you for helping them to feel appreciated, supported and welcome.

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Create a Subbing Culture to Engage Your Instructors

Create a Subbing Culture to Engage Your Instructors

Create a Subbing Culture to Engage Your Instructors

BUSINESS OWNER INSIGHTS

Jessica LaChance | August 11, 2021

Expert Robert Sherman shares tips for easing the headache of staffing your studio schedule.

Studio owners have always faced challenges keeping every class on their schedule covered. These difficulties are exacerbated by the need to hire, rehire, and re-engage their team of instructors in the pandemic-minded world. Jessica LaChance of Boutique Fitness Solutions sat down for a conversation with Robert Sherman, instructor development and management expert with over 30 years in the industry and a resume that spans roles and business models, to discuss tactical shifts you can make as a studio owner or manager to alleviate the headaches of filling your schedule.

Why discuss the importance of creating a subbing culture in your studio when your instructor challenges of the moment might seem so much larger and all-encompassing? Because how you handle schedule substitutions might impact your business in more ways than you realize.

Here are a few ways your substitution policies affect the success of your business:

  1. No fitness business is immune to the headache of keeping the schedule fully staffed.
  2. Constantly working to fill slots affects day-to-day operations and takes time away from revenue-generating activities.
  3. How you engage substitute instructors impacts overall studio culture.
  4. Managing your schedule plays a major role in intra-studio relationships (instructor-to-instructor, manager-to-instructor, or studio owner-to-instructor).
  5. Figuring out how to address subbing is especially necessary right now while many studios are still short-staffed.

You can watch the entire BFS Coffee Break Coaching Session with Robert HERE and schedule a check-in call with BFS to receive an exclusive invitation to our member-only live Q&A with Robert Sherman on August 17th at 2 pm EST.  

In the meantime here are some of the key takeaways from their conversation that you can implement at your studio right now:

Why creating a subbing culture at your studio is critical: 

  • It is unacceptable to have a class on the schedule without a teacher or to cancel a class at the last minute. This jeopardizes the credibility of your brand. 
  • Having a solid plan in place to keep your schedule staffed with high-quality instructors builds trust with your clients and members.

How can you make sure your schedule is fully staffed by qualified and enthusiastic substitute instructors?

  • Use the hiring process (or the re-entry to the studio process) to set the expectation off the bat that instructors are responsible for finding their own substitute instructors.
  • Create buddy pairings of instructors. Have your team members pair up to each have two names of “go-to” subs for their classes. Make this list the baseline criteria for getting on the schedule in the first place. 
  • Work to build an environment where your instructors feel that they are supporting the bigger picture. 
  • Set a studio-wide mentality that subbing is a benefit and a bonus and not a chore!

Creating a subbing culture not only helps you fill empty classes, it also helps build communication between team members, holds your team to a higher standard, creates an environment of credibility and quality, and opens up your schedule as a studio owner or manager to focus on brand building and revenue-generating activities.

Every studio is different and you will need to have policies that work for you, your teachers, and your clients. The bottom line is that it is crucial that you find a way to make sure that your schedule is full, your members are happy, and you don’t spend all of your time trying to fill your schedule. Creating a culture of subbing at your studio can help you achieve these goals.

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How to Create and Maintain the Culture of Your Studio

How to Create and Maintain the Culture of Your Studio

How to Create and Maintain the Culture of Your Studio

BUSINESS OWNER INSIGHTS

Jack Cuneo | May 27, 2021

Instructor turnover: the struggle is real! A revolving door of teachers at your studio creates a host of problems. It’s difficult to build your optimal schedule, hiring and training can absorb a ton of time and energy, and loyal instructors may have trouble getting coverage when they can’t teach their class. These challenges can decrease morale and/or force you to jump in at the last minute.

A disconnect within the staff can be frustrating, but there’s an even bigger problem: many clients join your studio—and keep renewing their memberships—because they love their favorite instructors. If those instructors leave, some of the clients who love them may follow. Make no mistake—your membership revenue and the health of your community depend on creating a culture that encourages instructors and employees to stick around for the long run.

Here are nine tips for how to create an irresistible studio culture that lowers your trainer turnover rate and keeps clients coming back for more:

#1: Understand the kind of culture you want to create.

Before you do anything, it is important to understand what kind of culture you want to create in your studio. Consider your methodology, customers’ needs, brand identity, competition, management style, and current team. Write down what kind of culture you would like to create and what type of person fits into that vision. Are they laid-back, super-friendly, detail-oriented, helpful, challenge seekers?

Many studios don’t spend much time on this step—this is a mistake for which they usually pay dearly down the road. Defining, refining, and communicating your culture determines who you attract to your studio, what they expect, and how they behave. Without a clear culture, you’ll need to spend a lot of time and money negotiating your way through conflicts and demands from all corners of your community. 

Keep in mind that even though you should be defining the culture you want to create, it will probably never look exactly the way you imagine. Why? Because culture is a web of relationships–it’s always changing, and can never be controlled. Envisioning a culture should usually not require wild creativity either. It’s more about determining basic boundaries, principles, and directions that you can reasonably expect quality clients, instructors, and staff to buy into and feel invested in. It’s about saying “this is who we choose to be, and this is how we demonstrate that every day.”

#2: Hire the right people.

Once you have carefully considered and defined what you’re trying to create, you’ll need to grow a team that can align with your culture and contributes to its vibrancy. This is a balancing act; you want to cultivate staff and instructors that broadly agree on your culture and your goals, but who will also provide healthy diversity and actually contribute to the culture. Evaluate your current team, and begin to organize your recruiting and hiring with this in mind.

Think about the role that you would like your instructors to take. Will you ask them to help out around the studio? Help you build your business through client communication? Take an active role in building your schedule and programming? Are you looking for expert instructors or newer individuals who will come in without preconceived notions about how things ought to be done? There is no one answer to your questions, but you must know what you are looking for before you begin the hiring process. Create a “culture fit and culture add” assessment that fits your needs and use it to vet everyone who comes in for an interview.

#3: Be wary of rockstars.

It’s easy for owners to get excited about a rockstar teacher with a big following, but hiring people who don’t play well with others or who don’t consider themselves as a member of the team can be destructive to your business—and some rockstars can fall into this category. Not only do these relationships often end in acrimony, but they can also divide your community of students. Make sure your hiring process includes mechanisms for identifying and weeding out people who place greater importance on furthering their career than being a member of an awesome team.

#4: Get clear on expectations.

Once you’re ready to hire someone, get super-clear about what you expect from them as an employee. What will be their role? What will their day-to-day responsibilities look like? What expectations will you need to create so that everyone upholds the policies, procedures, and culture in word and spirit? Make sure people know what they’re saying “yes” to. Either write out a contract or a simple outline of basic agreements so you and your instructors can refer back during the working relationship. This document will also be helpful during reviews, assessments for promotions and raises, and interventions or terminations.

#5: Be consistent AND solicit feedback.

Creating a culture that employees love isn’t about hiring enthusiastic folks, giving them a few speeches, and then turning them loose. The situations your business will face over time are complex, and your employees—and you—will need reminders and resources to make good calls in the face of these complexities. So be sure that everyone in your business has access to the tools and reminders they need to navigate through their work.

Remember that no matter how compelling your ideas about culture are, the true measure of culture is NOT ideas—it’s behavior. There’s no faster way to cause behavior to disintegrate than to tell your employees to act in one way, and then act in a different way yourself.

Also, keep in mind that consistency shouldn’t mean rigidity. A positive culture is meant to be participated in and celebrated. So let your instructors and staff discuss the culture openly and help it evolve and improve. Ultimately, having a good culture helps you as the business owner or manager—but it’s not actually about you. It’s about the whole community. Like cultivating a garden, you envision it and guide it and weed it, but you are not the force that causes it to grow.

#6: Conduct training sessions for your employees.

Hold onboarding training sessions to help reinforce expectations, brand identity, and company culture. Remind your instructors that being an active member of the team can help the business (and therefore themselves) thrive. It is also beneficial to hold regular events to nurture and evolve your culture. Team building events, continuing education opportunities, or company outings can help create a cohesive team that is mutually invested in your brand. 

#7: Be proactive in checking on new instructors.

Check-in with your new instructors and make sure they have all of the tools they need to succeed. Don’t rely on them to check in with you—they may be overwhelmed or nervous about making mistakes. Once they feel a bit more comfortable, you can begin to use a tool like FitGrid’s instructor insights to keep an eye on their performance. This data will allow you to track your instructors’ success and work with them to identify and execute improvements. 

#8: Pay attention to your staff and their needs.

Many instructor roles don’t pay a lot of money, but they do come with the benefit of allowing people to do what they love surrounded by others who they admire and respect. Remember that the work environment you create is a big part of what keeps your instructors and staff happy and engaged. As the owner or manager, don’t underestimate the power of showing up to work with a smile and a joke, or bringing everyone a surprise coffee, or acknowledging and thanking people for their efforts personally, or offering an ear to provide advice or consolation. These gestures can help instructors feel that they are being appreciated and that they are part of something bigger than themselves, with a relatively low cost to you. Caring for your people and being honest and transparent with them can create loyalties for life.

#9: Intervene immediately if an instructor goes astray.

The expression “one bad apple spoils the bunch” pertains to the studio environment as well. One instructor can unwind all of the work you have done to create and maintain your studio culture. If you start to see someone acting outside of expectations or against your values, don’t ignore it and hope for the best. Before reprimanding them, hold a one-on-one and see if their frustration can be resolved with a little appreciation or tweak of responsibility. It’s easy to blame an employee’s personality for issues, but that’s often unfair—so focus on identifying whether there are resolvable environmental factors first, like lack of clarity around roles, goals, and processes. Pull out your agreement and make sure everyone is still upholding their end. If the contract is no longer applicable for some reason, go through a revision process with your employee. If you don’t see an improvement after this intervention, it is probably time to have a conversation about respectfully and mutually parting ways. In this situation, remember that who is “right” doesn’t usually matter much—it’s about separating in a way that minimizes anxiety, hurt feelings, and community damage for all.

Ultimately, investing time in making careful hiring and training decisions will save you time, energy, sanity, customers, and revenue over time. Building a company culture that inspires your team to stay in it for the long run can help you not only lower your trainer turnover rate but also build a more successful business and more enjoyable place to work. 

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Six Tips for Successful Hybrid Fitness Classes

Six Tips for Successful Hybrid Fitness Classes

Six Tips for Successful Hybrid Fitness Classes

BUSINESS OWNER INSIGHTS

Lindsay Mcclelland | June 4, 2020

As states relax social distancing guidelines and fitness studios begin to reopen their physical locations, the idea of “hybrid” classes is top of mind for studio owners everywhere.

With in-person classes much smaller, and live-streaming here to stay, the hybrid class looks to many like the natural next step.

Since most studios are putting together their first hybrid classes, we asked some of our FitGrid studio partners to share their thinking and advice about what can work best. Here’s what they had to say:


1. Ask your students before creating your new schedule

COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, and organize our lives. As a result, more clients might have time for earlier classes if they’re working from home. “Do your best to meet the needs of most of your clients, said Heather Erdmann, owner of Pure Body Studio in Houston, TX. “If you’re not sure what those needs are, create and send a poll before building a new schedule.” Polling your community doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask for feedback on social media or send a survey via email to find out what works best for your students.

2. Engage with both virtual and in-person clients

In a hybrid class, you have two sets of students. FitGrid’s suite of community management tools makes engaging with students after class easy. Connecting with both groups during class, however, will take some adjustment.  Be aware that the camera has a strong draw, and “make an effort to look at the in-person clients so they don’t feel forgotten since you’re looking at a camera now as well,” said Chelsea Mozel, co-owner of MVP Dance Fit in Ohio. After all, everyone wants to feel some of the love and attention.

3. Create space for privacy

Not every client will want to appear in your live-streamed classes, so you’ll have to decide how to approach this with your students. FitGrid LIVE integrates with Zoom, making it easy for students at home to mute themselves or turn off their camera. In-person classes require a little more coordination. Erdmann has opted to spotlight a single student or teacher in training on Zoom instead of putting all clients on camera. “In exchange for being the spotlight, [the student gets] the class for free.” Mozel, on the other hand, is taking a different approach by advising studios to “have some designated areas that aren’t seen by the camera so clients who don’t want to be on video can still feel comfortable in your classes.” Both Erdmann and Mozel upgraded their studio waivers to cover instances of live-streaming.

4. Consider upgrading your AV equipment

To maximize the audio and visual experience for both sets of students, a webcam might not do the trick. Mozel made the decision to invest in equipment upgrades “to continue long term with live-streaming and have good quality for both sets of clients.” Erdmann teaches classical pilates, which isn’t set to music. She has continued to use an iPad to stream and added a tripod for stability. This also helps to keep only the spotlighted student in the frame.

5. Minimize visual distractions

As when live-streaming classes from home, instructors should make an effort to minimize visual distractions in the studio, too. This can make a huge difference in retaining virtual clients. Nicole Lazzerini, co-owner of LVL Fitness in Bakersfield, Calif., has guidelines for how her instructors set up their classes. “We are very picky about how our background is set up for each instructor,” she said. Lighting also makes a huge difference. Set up your camera so your instructor isn’t back-lit and make sure everyone demonstrating is visible throughout the class. There’s nothing worse than trying to follow along at home with headless students!

6. Let your community be together

All the studios we chatted with about their “hybrid” solutions agreed: Giving students the option to join an in-person class via Zoom is good for their business and community. Evolution Power Yoga in Pennsylvania plans to take this approach, “so our community can practice together despite not being able to fit everyone in the studio!” After class, be sure to unmute your students and let them chat amongst themselves. Social interaction is something we’re all craving, whether at home or in the studio, and even just five minutes of social time post-class can keep your community together!

FitGrid has been helping studios live-stream their classes since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Our experience combined with our suite of community management tools, easy set-up, and seamless integration with Mindbody and Zoom makes FitGrid LIVE the best solution for live-streaming and hybrid classes.


To start hybrid classes and stay connected to clients online and in the studio, sign up for a free trial of FitGrid LIVE.

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